New drama teacher encourages involvement
For Bryan Hileman, teaching is more about being actively engaged with his students than reading textbooks and giving lectures.
"I hate using textbooks in theater class," he said. "It's more about participation and getting involved."
Hileman, new this year to De Soto High School, will teach drama, speech and debate for the fall semester. In the spring, he'll also teach a forensics class. He replaces Ben Bartlett, who left last year to return to his alma mater of Shawnee Mission North High School.
Hileman taught one year at Wyandotte High School and student taught at Blue Valley West High School while earning his bachelor's degree from Kansas State University. Hileman and his wife, Lacy, recently had their first child, Isabella, born Aug. 7.
Hileman said he heard about the job opening in De Soto and was pleased to be teaching at the school.
"I took a tour of the school and really liked it," he said.
He'll also be closer to his family in Olathe and extended family in Overland Park.
Hileman is beginning with a program experiencing lots of growth, like the rest of the De Soto district. He teaches two drama classes in which students outnumber chairs and tables.
"I'm really excited to be doing shows," he said. "Over the last two years, the programs I've done have really been rising, and we want to keep students returning to drama so we'll have those student leaders in place."
Next semester, he'll also teach the first advanced drama course at DHS.
"In drama, I try to get students involved in every aspect," he said. "It's not just an acting class. They're going to learn history of theater, sound and technical aspects, makeup, set design."
Hileman said he first got involved in theater as a middle school student and remained so through college, where he worked in the set department at K-State.
"I like that it's hard work, and it pays off," he said. "I like the excitement of the performance. It can be pretty much for anybody."
Hileman said he's working with music teacher Mary Etta Copeland to develop this season's theater schedule.
In the spring, students will perform in "Noise Off," a play without music, to work on their dramatic skills and set design.
"It's a two-story rotating set design, and it's a play in a play," he said. "It's definitely more challenging on the technical side because you have to build the set."
Hileman said as the program grows, they'd be able to have an advanced theater course in the fall. Those students might even perform in a winter play and do fund-raisers to help support the program.
For the debate team, Hileman said 10 of his students are going to return from last year and many would serve as leaders to the newcomers to debate.
"We'll work together on building lesson plans," he said. "I really want the students to feel like they have ownership of the team."